Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vocabulary Spelling City -TOS Review

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VocabularySpellingCity is an interactive on-line spelling and vocabulary program. We reviewed the VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership which allows you to register up to 5 students from grades K through 12. You can access the program from any computer, or as an app, allowing multiple kids to access the program from different computers, or your tablet, at the same time. 
This is the Teaching Resources page. As you can see, there are a ton of resources that come along with this program.

The heart of this program is the word lists. There are many to choose from, including dolche, holiday, geography, etc. or you can make your own. These lists are imported to the particular students assignment sheet. The student has access to each list in their assignment queue along with options such as, "Teach, test, games." The parent/ teacher can assign more than one list at a time, so you could plan your week or monthly assignment for each student and let the program do the work. You will get separate log-ins for both parent and child allowing the parent to track assignments and progress and the student to focus on learning spelling vocabulary. In addition to the lists there are tons of games included such Flash cards, Word Find, Letter Fall, Speedy Speller, Cross-word puzzles, Word and Sentence Unscramble. Learning can be fun!
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While it is possible to use Vocabulary/ Spelling City for free or as a Basic Member their premium membership allows you to access record keeping, progress tracking, student log-in, extra games and activities, making it a comprehensive resource. As you can see, the VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership gives you a lot of bang for your buck!

This is a super amazing program. For around $5 a month, you have access to a fantastic program that teaches an important component of the mechanics of writing; spelling and vocabulary, making it fun, rather than drudgery, giving the kids the ability to work at skills incrementally and in an environment with lots of positive re-enforcement. Right now I have two students using this and that are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum as far as spelling ability. Part of the beauty of this program is that you can completely customize it for each student, group of students, by ability or by other academic work they are doing, creating your own spelling lists, for say, history or science.
My natural speller took to this like a fish to water.  He is ahead of grade level on spelling and blows through several lists at one time. He doesn't mind spelling, and will do what's assigned as quickly as possible.
My struggling speller, not so much. I started her out on word lists I was confident she could "get' even thought they were below her grade level, to give her a sense of mastery. While she is still not in the "I love spelling camp," I have higher hopes that she'll get there now. The "Teach Me" portion of the program is excellent and uses auditory, visual and contextual prompts to teach each word. The fact that she can go from the difficult work of learning spelling to the immediate reward of playing a game has sweetened the stress of spelling for her. Spelling is still not something she loves but she'll do it willingly, and that is a huge improvement over the tears (which is not normal for this kiddo) we had with our previous spelling program (which worked beautifully with my other remedial speller, but just stressed this one to no end).
I am thrilled that we found this program, am impressed with what's included and will continue to use it. Personally, however, I struggled with managing the program. I spent good chunks of time, on several different occasions, watching videos and figuring out how to manage this from the parent/ teacher side of things. Even with that I still have a hard time accessing one area of the program from another. While I'm definitely not a computer nerd,\ I'm can usually manage my way around programs fairly well so this was a bit frustrating as my time has been at a premium this fall. This one will take a bit of getting used to but if you can stick it out you'll be glad you did; just bear in mind this program is a front-end load proposition. The more I understand how to navigate the program, the more tools we are utilizing and the more impressed we are with all that's included.

You know you have a good thing going when one of your kids share their enthusiasm for something when you are tucking them in at bedtime and they say, "Mom! I can spell..." and then they proceed to spell through their lists for 15 minutes. She still had to work at it, she still had to mull over it, but she now feels a sense of accomplishment and pride in an area that had previously felt like hollow failure to her. "Mom, I LOVE word searches." "Mom, I can spell the entire 'Space' list." To watch the joy on my daughter's face and to see her now believing that she can conquer a subject that had previously kept her back from other things elevates VocabularySpellingCity to my list of homeschooling Must Haves.
Excellent for home use, in a co-op setting, or for schools.
A family premium membership is $29.99 for up to 5 students for a year.
Classrooms - $49.99 up to 25 students
Schools are priced per student - click HERE for prices on the entire school.

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